Archive for April, 2003

'Radio Userland Kick Start' breakthrough

April 30, 2003
I posted a note on Rogers Cadenhead’s blog, similar to what I posted here about the fact that Rogers’s book represents a watershed or breakthrough because it’s not about weblogs in general but covers one specific tool. Dave Winer posted a followup comment agreeing and I found myself writing an extended reply. It got so long that I felt funny about hogging up a blog comment page like that, so I’m posting it here (btw, thank gopod for multiple undo in Camino’s form text boxes or I’d be reassembling this from disconnected blocks in my brain):

absolutely, dave. as you know i’ve been tracking this market pretty closely and i think this means the days of general-level “gee whiz” books on blogging is drawing to a close. besides product-specific books (on the obvious usual suspects), i next anticipate to see vertical approaches (such as “blogging for journalists,” “blogging for teachers,” “blogging for project managers”) and other niches and angles should ensue before the whole blog model has evolved to the pointed where publishers will have to start over again.
personally, i’d still like to write a nonfiction book about what weblogs represent, what they can do, and where they might be going.
and, yes, chris, i am budgeting some time to completing the first title in my “nanopublishing with…” e-book miniseries.

First book on a single blog tool

April 30, 2003

I’ve been following the blog book market pretty closely this last year and with the recent Google acquisition of Pyra to get Blogger and Neotony investment in Six Apart to support Movable Type and then TypPad, it’s kind of cool to note that the firstr book dedicated to a single specific blog tool is on Radio.
Scripting News reports that Rogers Cadenhead (a top selling computer-book author, writer of the Workbench weblog, and friend to Salon bloggers and Radio users alike) is doing a book called Radio Kick Start (great title!) for Sams:

Rogers Cadenhead is doing a book on Radio to be published this summer by Sams Publishing. Chapter 1 is on the Web for your review. Very cool! Thanks Rogers. [Scripting News]

Radiohead's lamest album

April 30, 2003

Scot Hacker is all over the new iTunes store story, dropping wisdom on theory and practice left and right. Caveat: a man who calls OK Computer “Radiohead’s lamest album” is a man who has outgrown cannabis.

[UPDATE: Scot begs to differ, insisting that the album was merely dull. Great minds, it seems, don’t necessarily hear alike.]

Radiohead's lamest album

April 30, 2003

Scot Hacker is all over the new iTunes store story, dropping wisdom on theory and practice left and right. Caveat: a man who calls OK Computer “Radiohead’s lamest album” is a man who has outgrown cannabis.

Brought home the good weather

April 30, 2003

Everyone says it’s rained pretty hard the whole time we were out of town, but it was only partly cloudy (thick, fat clouds, though, with gray areas) last night and today I’m seeing the same windswept crystal blue sky we had in New Orleans, decorated by the local variety of cloudfluff, so maybe the same unusually weather we got down there came back with us on the plane?

[backyard sky]

Down here on earth, back in the maelstrom it is.

Brought home the good weather

April 30, 2003

Everyone says it’s rained pretty hard the whole time we were out of town, but it was only partly cloudy (thick, fat clouds, though, with gray areas) last night and today I’m seeing the same windswept crystal blue sky we had in New Orleans, decorated by the local variety of cloudfluff, so maybe the same unusually weather we got down there came back with us on the plane?

[backyard sky]

Down here on earth, back in the maelstrom it is.

Brush with a pro-am ponzi

April 30, 2003

Brush with a pro-am ponzi schemer.

I wasn’t surprised when my cellphone rang because I had already told the guy who’d sent me the query to call me the next day. It was hard enough juggling a fulltime job at an insane startup while still trying to keep up my contacts with publishers and keep my writer clients happy. I wasn’t really looking for any new clients but I’m a sucker for a good pitch and I always figured I could go sit out in my car and talk on my cellphone during a break if something needed immediate attention.

Fortunately a conference room was open so I told this guy to hold a minute and went in there. I figured if I took notes on the white board people would assume I was talking to one of our crazy dotcom clients who had no idea how to run their business and were spending most of their vc money on clients like us trying to build their cockamamie schemes into convincing enough websites to generate that next round of funding. This was well past the peak of net.boom, well into the long downward slide, but reality was taking its own sweet time reasserting itself amidst all the kerfluffle and powerpoints.

Nick was an entrepreneur who wanted to write a book either about his phenomenal – so he said – business success or about himself personally. Lots of people want to write books and tell their stories and most of them think they can do it easily. In the breach, most never even get a proposal together and others end up flaking out along the way when they realize how much harder it is to write a coherent several-hundred page book than it is to entertain strangers with anecdotes at a cocktail party

Nick was an internet entrepreneur, in fact a pornsite enterpreneur. Actually, he was kind of a metaporn entrepreneur, because he didn’t actually run any porno sites himself. Instead he sold people the kits they needed to start up their own cottage porno industries. This was like ostrich breeding or opening up a franchise, all across middle america. Some of his customers were trying to exploit their own sex lives in the pro-am side of the business, but most of them were just subscribing to his seemingly limitless supply of copyright-free porn archives of dubious provenance.

I’d heard all the tent-stakes speeches before, especially during the gold rush years online. Everyone thought they’d cracked the nut and had a unique angle by selling other people the tools and services they needed to pursue their reckless plans. We knew almost nobody was going to strike gold. We just wanted to sell them pans and mules, tents and tent stakes. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the same reasoning obtained in the online sex business. I gather spam works the same way. Down at the base of the pyramid none of these hapless spammers are making money, but the people selling them bulk mailing tools, scraped e-mail addresses, and ever-escalation spam-protection evasion schemes were the only ones really making money. Think Amway or any other multi-level marketing ponzi scheme. Spamway, I guess.

So Nick started off by telling me about his genius scheme. The beauty part was that he made his money up front and collected subscription fees, whether his clients ever got their cookie-cutter “see my wife naked” sites up and running successfully or not. With his tools they could launch a designed site with credit-card validation and a proto-blog tool for posting the wife’s supposed daily journal to keep customers coming back for more. Nick kept insisting that his clients did make money, but I was dubious. I didn’t press the point though because I was still trying to figure out what kind of book he was planning to write.

He was a born salesmen, too. I’ve been around this type a lot. He was selling me the whole time. Everything was top of the line. His story was going to be explosive, a tearjerker, a bestseller. I just laughed that off. If people only understood the book business they’d stop thinking they were sitting on the next big title. Also, it became clear to me as it went on that h edidn’t want to twrite about his adventures in the skin trade. He wanted to write about himself.

The crux of the matter was that he had been raised Catholic and he obviously still felt there some conflict between the values instilled in him by his immigrant parents growing up and the ones he was exploiting now in his business. He kept going back and forth on this, claiming that what he was doing was good old American business and even throwing in a little bit of warmed-over free-love rhetoric from the sixties, but it didn’t take a Freud to here the denial in his elaborate circumlocutions, when it came to addressing what his clients were trying to sell.

I’m no prude. I’ve looked a porn. Whatever. It has its place. It was actually his dotcom-style hype that was wearing thin for me. I’d heard so many blue sky descriptions of business mdoels and looked at so many phonied-up numbers and charts that my bullshit-meter was on a hair-trigger by then. The problem is that the people who really can sell coals to Newcastle sound the same way, and I was only spending a few nonbillable moments of Wellspring’s time entertraining his pitch, so I was willing to let him go for a while, making noncommittal Columbo-style grunts in response to him whenever he took a breath. He was free to interpret that as agreement or encouragement if he wanted.

“I really think my story could be a breakout blockbuster hit,” he told me at one point. “We should talk about the film rights, too.” I wasn’t sure why he though there was anything unique at all about his experience, except that he was obviously having some degree of success that on some level amazed him and made him think that anything was possible and that he maybe had his fingers in an even more valuable pie. People would pay not just to purchase his kits (though he did expect the book to help cross-promote the business and vice versa) but his sit and his feet and listen to his words of wisdom about how to make it in America selling tits and ass without losing your self-respect.

I brushed him off, finally, with the hurdle that filters out 90% of my queries. I told him to write a proposal, and offered to send him some guidelines. If he could distill his pitch into a convincing business case, sure I’d consider representing him. I had my own raised-Catholic guilt issues to consider but then again I’d be one further step removed from him in my own little pyramid of obligations and responsibilities and I’d already offered to represent writers with much more crass or vile ideas. I’m all about free speech anyway, right?

So I wasn’t lying when I told him that I’d honestly consider repping his book proposal if he got it together and sent it to me. By now there were people milling around the little conference room about to start a meeting, so I needed to wipe the white board clean and cut it short anyway. He was launching into another extended hyperbolic pitch when I cut him short (I love doing that to salespeople) and told him to go ahead and take that next step.

I never heard back from him.

Jazz Fest 2003, day 3

April 28, 2003

The good news is I haven’t had time each day to get online and upload pictures and such and even now I’m just going to dump raw notes and maybe come back to it later:
large iced café au lait
beignets
…to Blues tent to grab seats, then back out for…
crab cake and seafood mirliton casserole with smokes jalapeño tomato tartar sauce
Henry Butler with a seven-piece band (keys, bass drums, guitar, tenor or alto sax, trumpet, and percussion). Got good pix. Here’s one:

[Henry Butler]

Tent is packed. We met Rosie, the percussionist, last night. Henry announced Rosie’s daughter’s ninth birdthday from the stage… Several tunes from his latest CD on Basin Street Records, The Game Has Just Begun, including “Hi-Heeled Sneakers,” then a rollicking “Big Chief,” the Earl King tune generally associated with Fess, then “Iko Iko” with a strong Bo Diddley beat, then another Mardi Gras song (“If you go down to New Orleans/You ought to see the Mardi Gras/etc.,” which I first heard performed by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band). At this point s says Butler doesn’t need to be playing all these Mardi Gras songs, but they’re all crowd pleasers, especially for the out-of-town crowd, and he probably didn’t have to rehearse much with the band to do this gig. Next comes “Rockin’ Pneumonia” with a Mozart-in-ragtime interlude.
Then we heard some of the Plastic System Band of Martinique, a carnaval parade group with a neverending groove (think the D.C. Go-Go style).
large unsweetened rosemint tea
Next, a brief stop in the Economy Hall tent for the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Band, which b loved, since it reminded her of cartoon music from her childhood. She snapped a few pictures of them:

[New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Band]

Then off to the grandstand, where the bathrooms have been rededicated, three out of four, for women, but women still lined up in a long line for the one ladies room on the right side, not knowing there were two more available at the other end.
During a brief count-the-change snafu in the line for the oysters, we heard some of Glennys Rogers and then Star Nayea and Aniyu on the Lagniappe stage. They were generous with the oysters, giving us two to eat while they shucked another fourteen, more than a baker’s dozen, for $6.50.
For a brief slideshow, click on the picture of the half-eaten try of oysters:

[Half-eaten ersters]

We wandered over to the very crowded Acura stage for the last tune by the recently reunited subdudes, then popped into the Jazz tent for the end of Donald Harrison presents Indians Blues Revisited (Harrison is a jazz musician – he was in Art Blakey’s group with Terence Blanchard when they took over for the older Marsalis sons – but his father was a Mardi Gras Indian chief and he is strongly into fusing his various genres with jazz).
large cochon de lait po’boy (really good!)
large unsweetened rosemint tea
dove bar
Finally we settled in for Cassandra Wilson‘s set in the Jazz tent. She looked somewhat pregnant and very happy. As usual her band played acousticky, folk-style instruments (her lead guitarist plays a hollowbody and played banjo on one tune, her bass player plays a stand-up bass). Her voice is a strong and sonorous as ever. She lead off with “Lay Lady Lay,” did a couple of Joabim tunes, a Dinah Washington song (“Sail On”?), an Abby Ross song, “Drunk Like Cooter Brown” from her first record, and for an encore she did a cool reinterpration of the Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” (by Neil Sedaka, if I’m not mistaken):

[Cassandra Wilson]

The weather was probably the best we ever had, cool and dry for the most part. At the end of the day a few stray fluffy clouds dotted a clear blue sky:

[fluffy cloud]

Jazz Fest 2003, day 3

April 28, 2003

The good news is I haven’t had time each day to get online and upload pictures and such and even now I’m just going to dump raw notes and maybe come back to it later:

large iced café au lait
beignets

…to Blues tent to grab seats, then back out for…

crab cake and seafood mirliton casserole with smokes jalapeño tomato tartar sauce

Henry Butler with a seven-piece band (keys, bass drums, guitar, tenor or alto sax, trumpet, and percussion). Got good pix. Here’s one:

[Henry Butler]

Tent is packed. We met Rosie, the percussionist, last night. Henry announced Rosie’s daughter’s ninth birdthday from the stage… Several tunes from his latest CD on Basin Street Records, The Game Has Just Begun, including “Hi-Heeled Sneakers,” then a rollicking “Big Chief,” the Earl King tune generally associated with Fess, then “Iko Iko” with a strong Bo Diddley beat, then another Mardi Gras song (“If you go down to New Orleans/You ought to see the Mardi Gras/etc.,” which I first heard performed by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band). At this point s says Butler doesn’t need to be playing all these Mardi Gras songs, but they’re all crowd pleasers, especially for the out-of-town crowd, and he probably didn’t have to rehearse much with the band to do this gig. Next comes “Rockin’ Pneumonia” with a Mozart-in-ragtime interlude.

Then we heard some of the Plastic System Band of Martinique, a carnaval parade group with a neverending groove (think the D.C. Go-Go style).

large unsweetened rosemint tea

Next, a brief stop in the Economy Hall tent for the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Band, which b loved, since it reminded her of cartoon music from her childhood. She snapped a few pictures of them:

[New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Band]

Then off to the grandstand, where the bathrooms have been rededicated, three out of four, for women, but women still lined up in a long line for the one ladies room on the right side, not knowing there were two more available at the other end.

During a brief count-the-change snafu in the line for the oysters, we heard some of Glennys Rogers and then Star Nayea and Aniyu on the Lagniappe stage. They were generous with the oysters, giving us two to eat while they shucked another fourteen, more than a baker’s dozen, for $6.50.

For a brief slideshow, click on the picture of the half-eaten try of oysters:

[Half-eaten ersters]

We wandered over to the very crowded Acura stage for the last tune by the recently reunited subdudes, then popped into the Jazz tent for the end of Donald Harrison presents Indians Blues Revisited (Harrison is a jazz musician – he was in Art Blakey’s group with Terence Blanchard when they took over for the older Marsalis sons – but his father was a Mardi Gras Indian chief and he is strongly into fusing his various genres with jazz).

large cochon de lait po’boy (really good!)
large unsweetened rosemint tea
dove bar

Finally we settled in for Cassandra Wilson‘s set in the Jazz tent. She looked somewhat pregnant and very happy. As usual her band played acousticky, folk-style instruments (her lead guitarist plays a hollowbody and played banjo on one tune, her bass player plays a stand-up bass). Her voice is a strong and sonorous as ever. She lead off with “Lay Lady Lay,” did a couple of Joabim tunes, a Dinah Washington song (“Sail On”?), an Abby Ross song, “Drunk Like Cooter Brown” from her first record, and for an encore she did a cool reinterpration of the Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” (by Neil Sedaka, if I’m not mistaken):

[Cassandra Wilson]

The weather was probably the best we ever had, cool and dry for the most part. At the end of the day a few stray fluffy clouds dotted a clear blue sky:

[fluffy cloud]

Jazz Fest 2003, day 2.

April 27, 2003

Jazz Fest 2003, day 2.

Moise & Alida Viator with Eh, La-Bas!, a surprisingly funky creole fusion. I accidentally capture a few seconds of this couple dancing (with crowds streaming between them and the camera):

[eh, la-bas!]

[click pictures for larger shots]

When they’re done we head for some large iced café au lait, and b buys some earthernware pottery from Dallas. Then I get a seafood salad (popcorn shrimp, fried crawfish, mixed green salad, lemon, tartar/ranch type dressing), b gets crawfish sausage po’boy with mustard, and s gets fried eggplant with crawfish sauce (the big winner, he reminisces about it all day). Then I think it’s an hour later than it is and herd us prematurely to the Louisiana Heritage stage, where we catch some of Michael Ward‘s electric fiddle funk. En route we get a large unsweetened rosemint tea (for b), and a large unsweetened mandarin orange tea (for me).

Then we head over to the Lagniappe Stage for Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians

[big chief]

…who close out their set with the ol’ favorite singalong “Down by the Riverside.”

We head into the grandstand for air conditioning, flush toilets, and the photography exhibit, and on the way back out later catch a few bars of Renée McCrary, a rock belter, then head back to the La. Heritage stage for Garage a Trois, now a four-piece featuring Stanton Moore (the drummer from Galactic) and Charlie Hunter on guitar:

[garage-a-deux]

…also Skerik on sax and a vibraphone-player/percussionist whose name escapes me.

I ask s to snap another picture of b and me:

[b and me]

We meet e over at the Lagniappe stage and hear some of Alison Brown Quartet. She’s an award-winning banjo player and her band is an electro-newgrass-ish outfit. She goes on our “buy at the CD tent” list (along with Eh, La-Bas! and the Canadian group from yesterday). Her encore is called “Shoot the Dog.” It’s name seems to be derived from the fact that she’s walking the dog on the banjo and her electric pianist is shooting the keys in response.

Then it’s time for my softshell crab po’boy, b’s two Mrs. Wheat’s crawfish pies, e’s cuban sandwich, and s’s caribbean seafood salad. b and i share another large unsweetened rosemint tea and i also get a small frozen café au lait for the sugar/caffeine infusion.

Next we sit in the vastly improved Blues tent, which now has an impromptu sod lawn in the back half, more ventilation, and misters running along two sides to hear a bit of Jeremy Lyons and his trio (guitar, stand-up bass, drums):

[white boys blue]

As we come in they’re finishing up an instrumental version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” We stay in the tent for the Duke Robillard Blues Band:

[duke robillard]

According to s, Robillard was one of the founders of Roomful of Blues. His first tune is called “Swimming with Lucy” (he says, “I wrote this song for my dog,” making this the second dog song of the days, as Alison Brown had said of “Shoot the Dog” that she “wrote this song about my grandmother’s dog Woofie”).

We head over to the Acura stage to get set up for Bob Dylan‘s day-closing set. They don’t have any bleachers this year (!) so we find a grassy spot to hunker down behind the sea of lawnchairs. I head off to get a large crawfish monica and two bottles of water and then settle in for Dylan’s nearly two-hour set:

Dylan setlist (partial)
1 ??
2 Tonight, I’ll be Stayin’ Here with You
3 Highway 61
4 Things Have Changed
5 It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
6 Dignity
7 Mr. Tambourine Man
8 Drifter’s Escape (?)
9 By and By
10 Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
11 ??
12 ??
13 A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall
14 Summer Days
(bows)
encore:
15 Like a Rolling Stone
16 All Along the Watchtower

We’re definitely back in the dilettante section. Up closer is the fanatic section. I try to move in for some photos but the crush up front is unbearable. I end up taking pictures of the sky, b, and myself lying in the grass.

[laid back]

I also snap some pictures of Dylan on the monitors, to at least give a feel for what we were seeing:

[pixelated dylan]

Overheard conversation while fighting my way back from the frontside:

“I can’t believe you left the beers”
“There were only 3 left”
“But it’ll take us 20 minutes to get back there and I’m out!

I see a guy in the crowd with a bunch of bills of various denomination stapled to his chest. B remembers the line as being about “50 lbs. of hairdye” but I’m pretty sure it’s “headlines.”

Looks like Charlie Sexton is out of the band on second guitar. There’s a new guy, named Koella from Nashville in there. I think the drummer is new too.

I doodled a few sketches but nothing came out all that good.

The weather really cooled off by the end of the day. Another perfect day at the fairgrounds. After that showers, dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, and then to bed (I opt not to go see Yonder Mountain String Band at Twi-Ro-Pa, though I’m sorely tempted) to get ready for Saturday.